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Ferguson Sparks Interest In Mobile Justice Phone App

PHOTO: The shooting of unarmed teen Micheal Brown in Ferguson, Missouri has sparked interest in a new Mobile Justice smartphone app which allows users to document and report interactions with police. Image courtesy of ACLU of Missouri.
PHOTO: The shooting of unarmed teen Micheal Brown in Ferguson, Missouri has sparked interest in a new Mobile Justice smartphone app which allows users to document and report interactions with police. Image courtesy of ACLU of Missouri.
December 1, 2014

CHARLESTON, W. Va. - The shooting of Micheal Brown in Ferguson, Missouri has sparked interest in a smartphone app designed to help people protect their rights. Missouri American Civil Liberties Union executive director Jeffrey Mittman says their Mobile Justice smartphone app explains what proper police contact is and allows users to record and report audio and video of police contact.

He says now that people carry phones that record, it's all the more critical they know exactly what their rights are.

"What is and is not proper contact by police officers, and what rights individuals have," says Mittman. "What to ask police, when you're free to go, when they can stop you, and when you can be searched."

The app is available on the ACLU of Missouri's website and in the Google Play store. It's tailored for folks in Missouri, but versions are beginning to appear in other states. An iPhone app is expected in the next few months.

A 2009 study of over 300,000 West Virginia police stops found minorities one-and-a-half times more likely to be stopped than whites, and two-and-a-half times as likely to be searched. The study also found the searches of minorities were less likely to find contraband.

Mittman says his organization has seen a spike in reports of police harassment in Missouri since the August 9 shooting Michael Brown.

"We've certainly seen this in Ferguson and that has raised the importance of this issue," says Mittman. "But I don't want to say this is a Missouri-only or a Ferguson-only situation. Unfortunately, this is far too common all across the country."

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV